Friday, January 18, 2008

360 Smith...Nothing but Questions!

67 QUESTIONS from C.G. Residents to Mr. Stein re: 360 Smith Street and still counting.....

Our Councilman's Office has been saying that Mr. Stein, the 360 Smith Street developer, has offered to meet with us and discuss the plans for the building...again...

In the interest of giving Mr. Stein the ability to cover all of our issues, we have TWICE submitted the same series of questions/concerns which were supplied by you, our readers, and CORD to Tom Gray, the Councilman's District Director.

We have been anxiously awaiting the response.

Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 9:54 AM Re-Sent:Thursday, January 3, 2008 4:11 PM

Dear Tom

Please find two attachments.

These were prepared not long after the CGNA meeting which Bill Stein attended back in September.

At the time, the CGNA was interested in having him come back and answer some questions more specifically than he was able to do that evening.

CORD reached out to the neighborhood. We passed these on to the CGNA. The attached letter is self explanatory as are the questions.

Although we greatly appreciate Mr Stein's offer to sit with us at your office, rather than presenting these questions, some of which he may not be able to answer on the spot, to Mr Stein at a meeting, perhaps you would be willing to pass these on to him and have him get back to you with his responses.

The one question that is not included on this list is---

"What did Councilman DeBlasio mean when he announced at the CGNA Landmarking Forum that Mr Stein had "already agreed to come down a floor"? Since the neighborhood has never seen a building plan of the actual building how shall we understand that exactly?"

Hopefully, Mr Stein's responses will address that as well.

Thank you, CORD

The following is the cover letter presented with the questions:

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
October 11, 2007

Dear Mr. Stein,
Attached please find a list of questions from Carroll Gardens community members who reside in the area surrounding your project at 360 Smith Street .

As you are well aware, the very limited information that we have been able to garner regarding the proposed building's specifics, has made many of the residents upset, uncomfortable, resentful and defensive.

The attached list is representative of not only their questions and concerns, but their feelings. CORD, The Coalition for Respectful Development, a neighborhood group, has made a promise to each person who wanted to contribute a question or relate a concern, that their queries would be expressed.

We deliberately did not edit any of the questions because of that promise.

We are extremely appreciative of the fact that you are willing to listen to us. We know very well that you are not obligated to do so. We hope that you will answer each and every question.

Perhaps, once answered, your new neighbors will find many of their concerns unfounded, fears allayed. Perhaps, once our feelings are expressed, you will find yourself willing to compromise on things you may have not previously considered. At the very least, once accurate, detailed information is received and exchanged, we will all have a clearer understanding of what to expect pre, during and post construction, its impact on our homes and daily lives.

We, at CORD, would like to thank you for taking the time to hear us. We look forward to your response. CO RD

Here is the complete list of questions submitted:

"--Is there a scale model? Would he be willing to present it?

--Why is the �heavy metal� version of the building still on the Scarano website? What exactly is he building?

--What does the current approved plan look like? How does it differ from the drawing shown at the last cgna meeting?

--As long as the developer has purposefully chosen to keep the design plan secret from the community, while simultaneously claiming to have a real interest in their input, why does he choose to aggravate and confuse by allowing the original design to remain on the website of the architect? Can't he request that it be removed? Is it still there because it is what will be built?

--Is Robert Scarano still the architect of the project or is the �new� design done by someone else?

--Why were there no renderings presented of the Smith Street side or the back side of the �L�? Depending on where we live, we must deal with the whole thing, not just the front.

--Given the fact that the subway tunnel is so close to the surface of your site, and your architect's abundance of halted projects, some of which are for damage to surrounding properties, which companies have you employed as contractors, engineers and construction workers? As daily passengers on the F & G trains, as well as residents of the community, we wish to educate ourselves as to their safety records and professional reputations.

--Why would the developer wish to mess up Carroll Gardens ?

--As an attendee at the meeting when the drawing was displayed, and as a NY/ Miami area snowbird, the tall portion of the building looks much more like the house of detention on Atlantic Avenue than anything in South Beach, Miami . Can't that part be made to look more like the historic buildings in Carroll Gardens ?

--Why was the building number on the old District Office 15 building (now the school) changed from 360 Smith to 342 Smith St ?

--What is the expected start date?

--How long is the construction expected to take?

--Will the 2 Place roadway be closed at any time during the construction?

--Will additional parking spaces on 2 Place be lost during the construction to make room for equipment, dumpsters, etc? How about after construction? Will 2 Place keep the same number of parking spaces on your side of the street that are currently available to us now?

--What plan is in place to provide for the safety of pedestrians, subway riders and especially the scores of school children who will have to pass the construction site on a daily basis?

--Traffic is already a horror where 3rd Street , Smith Street and 2 Place meet�what plan does the developer have to ease that congestion while his construction activity is added to the mix?

--Will the developer provide three or four residents on Second Place with a phone number where he can be reached immediately in the event of the development an unsafe situation/condition?

-- Will there be personnel on site specifically to maintain safety?

--Will there be netting placed around the building as it goes up?

--What other measures will be taken to keep the area as �particle free� as possible?

--Will the use of heavy machinery halt during the hours when the �child traffic� is heaviest? (Ideally, 8:15-8:45 AM and 2:50-3:30 PM)

-- Will the developer be responsible for alerting the correct city agencies so that the services needed, that he is not required to provide, will be requested before a potentially dangerous situation arises? (example, crossing guards, traffic control, additional traffic lights and/or crosswalks added to accommodate the kids, etc)

--What, if anything is the developer prepared to do to make the much smaller Second Street subway entrance more accessible to the handicapped, elderly and moms with baby carriages during the construction?

--Will the developer be providing personnel at the 2 Street subway entrance in order to maintain control of the rush hour crowds and insure their safety?

--What is the expected length of time that the 2 Pl subway entrance will be closed?

--Why is it necessary to close that entrance at all?

--Does the developer anticipate any situation arising during his construction which will necessitate the closure of the Second Street subway entrance as well as 2 Pl?

--Will the finished 2 Pl subway entrance be changed/reconfigured/relocated/increased or reduced from its current size in any way?

--What will the new 2Pl entrance ultimately look like?

--Will the newsstand return?

--How much of the plaza will be eaten up by the structure?

--Will there be a �tunnel� leading to the new 2 place subway entrance?

--How much of the plaza (in square footage) will remain open?

--Will the plaza be landscaped or fenced off? Will it include seating? Will all of the plaza (not just the path to the subway entrance) remain as an open, accessible, welcoming place for the entire community?

--What will happen to the trees at the subway plaza?

--If taken down, will they be replaced with mature trees of close or equal size or tree �sticks�?

--Is the developer really willing to deal with thousands of disgruntled residents?

--Will the building be built upon a concrete �slab�?

--How thick will that slab be?

--What are the final finished roof heights for each level of the building on 2 Place and Smith Street ?

--What are the locations of each egress?

--How high will the garage wall be at the end of 2 Place?

--Will there be commercial space? How many square feet? Where will it be? What type?

--Will parking be made available within the new building to accommodate the retail/commercial space patrons/workers?

--What type of materials will be used on the building's exterior?

--What is the type and location of the ventilation system for the garage?

--What type of fire suppression system is being used?

--Will there be cell phone towers? If yes, at what specific locations?

--Does the developer have any regard for the nearby residents and the impact his building will have on their lives and homes?

--Where will all of the garbage be stored before being placed out for pickup?

--Where will all of the trash be put out for pick up? Will it be lined up along 2 Place?

--Will there be noisy air conditioning equipment? Where will the a/c units be located? Will they be enclosed? If so,how?

--What type of light trespassing can be expected? Will there be windows facing the 2 Pl back yards? Will there be balconies facing the 2 Pl back yards? Will there be recreational space atop the garage? Playground? Pool?

--Aren't the recreational areas required to be lit all night? What type of lighting/wattage will be used? Please specify the types and locations of all lighting fixtures in the design.

--The height and sheer bulk of your building will certainly deprive many surrounding homes and gardens of much needed and loved sunlight. Where is your sense of respect for the homes of others?

--Will the apartments be offered as condos, coops or rental units?

--What is the breakdown of the sizes of the apartments? How many are studios, 1 bedroom, etc.

--Will there be any 3 and/or 4 bedroom units?

--How many total units will there be? What is the price category�luxury, market rate? What percentage, if any, will be offered as affordable? What will the price range be to purchase or rent?

--Given the current glut of two bedroom condos on the market, don't you feel your development will become no more than a revolving door of transient renters? How do you justify this as a benefit to our community when any honest realtor will tell you that that particular situation actually lowers the value of the surrounding properties?

--How is the developer planning to handle the unavoidable rat problem that we will all be left to deal with?

--Is the developer willing to provide the multiple rat bait traps that all of our homes on Smith Street , 2nd Street , 3rd Street and 2 Place will need in place before he begins to make holes in the ground?

--Would the developer respect a City Council Resolution granting an interim moratorium in Carroll Gardens ?

--CORD asks if the developer would be willing to comply with the following:

--To build his apartment house to conform with all aspects of R6b contextual zoning

--To build his apartment house in a style similar to and in character with our neighborhood---something that would be deemed acceptable if the street it will be occupying had already attained landmark status

--To include some three and four bedroom units so that the building will truly be more family-oriented and a stabilizing factor in the neighborhood.

--To leave the subway plaza, as is, open and free of any buildings overhanging it in any manner"

To be continued...



With the "Protect Our Homes" petition, CORD was formed in May, 2007. This petition arose as an overwhelmingly negative response to the coming of the over-sized 360 Smith Street Development at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place (Aka Oliver House; aka 131 Second Place). This petition, which had well over three thousand signatures, led to a new zoning text amendment in summer of 2008.

To: Our Elected Officials, Community Leaders, The MTA:
(MAY, 2007)

We the undersigned Carroll Gardens homeowners and residents, are appalled by the "as of right" ruling which allows owners and developers to erect buildings in our neighborhood with no regard to the impact they will present to our quality of life and the value of our homes........